Q. mal ámë etelehta ulcullo: násië, “but deliver us from evil: Amen”

[< Previous Phrase] Átaremma


The tenth line of Átaremma, Tolkien’s Quenya translation of the Lord’s Prayer. The conjunction mal “but” is followed by a combination of imperative particle á and the pronoun me “us”. This is followed by the aorist form of the verb etelehta “deliver” and ulcullo “from evil”, the ablative form of the noun ulco (perhaps a noun form of ulca). The final word násië, corresponding to English “Amen”, seems to be a Quenya word meaning “*be it thus”.

Decomposition: Broken into its constituent elements, this phrase would be:

mal á-më ete-lehta ulcu-llo: násië = “*but (imperative)-us out-free evil-from: amen”

Conceptual Development: The tenth line underwent more changes than any other line in the prayer. In version III of the prayer, this phrase was first written as a near match to the phrase in version IIb, but was radically altered to a form that persisted to version IV. The analysis below designates these two variations of version III as IIIa and IIIb.

In earlier versions of the prayer, the word for “but” was mostly ono (IIa-IV), though in version I it was {anat >>} one, and it was elided to on’ in version IIIa.

The earlier imperative element was either na (I-IIa) or a (IIIb-IV), and it appeared either before the verb (I-IIa, IIIb-IV) or in the middle of the verb (IIb-IIIa) as et·a·rúna.

The object pronoun me consistently appeared immediately after the verb in the versions I-IV of the prayer rather than before the verb as in version V-VI.

The early versions (I-IV) used a different verb et(e)rúna for “deliver”, still in the aorist tense but in (IIIb-IV) with an embedded imperative et·a·rúna, as noted above.

Tolkien earlier considered several words for “evil”: olca (I deleted), ulca (I), ulco (IIa) and úro (IIa-IV), the last of these possibly a noun form of úra¹ “nasty”. These appeared either with the allative suffix -llo (I) or the preposition va “(away) from” (IIa-IV). In versions IIIb-IV only, the prepositional phrase va úro appeared before the verb rather than after.

Quenya words corresponding to “Amen” appeared only in a few versions: san na (IIa), násan (IIb) and násië (VI), each meaning something like “*be it thus” or “*be it so”.

    I   IIa IIb IIIa IIIb IV V VI
{anat >>} one ono on’ ono mal
na etrúna me et·a·rúna me va úro ám’ etelehta áme etelehta
{olcallo >>} ulcallo va ulco {var-úra >>} va úro aly’ eterúna me ulcullo
  san na násan   násie

References ✧ VT43/8-12

Variations

Elements

mal “but” ✧ VT43/23.1901
á “imperative particle” ✧ VT43/23.3115 (aly’); VT43/23.3106
me “us (exclusive)” ✧ VT43/23.4101; VT43/23.3208-1 (m’); VT43/23.4101
etelehta- “*to deliver” present ✧ VT43/23.3907
ulco “evil” ablative ✧ VT43/24.0101; VT43/23.4301 (ulcullo)
násië “*amen, (lit.) may it be so” ✧ VT43/24.2003
ono “but” ✧ VT43/23.0703 (anat); VT43/23.0907 (one); VT43/23.1002 (on’); VT43/23.0910
olca “bad, wicked” ablative ✧ VT43/23.4204 (olcallo)
ulca “dark, gloomy, sinister; evil” ablative ✧ VT43/23.4208 (ulcallo)
ná- “to be” subjunctive ✧ VT43/23.3001 (na)
eterúna- “*to deliver” aorist ✧ VT43/23.3301 (etrúna); VT43/23.3712 (et·a·rúna); VT43/23.3803 (et·á·rúna); VT43/23.3306
násan “*amen, (lit.) may it be so” ✧ VT43/24.1802 (san na); VT43/24.1807
var “*from, away to” ✧ VT43/24.1207
úra¹ “nasty” ✧ VT43/24.0701 (úra)
va “(away) from” ✧ VT43/24.0109
úro “*evil, nastiness” ✧ VT43/24.0904

Element In